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20 years after Sept.11: How satellites tracking disasters have changed

As the 20th anniversary of 9/11 approaches, satellite images show the devastation caused by the fear attacks that day and therefore the evolution of disaster monitoring from space.

The terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, involved four commercial airplanes that were hijacked and crashed into the planet Trade Center towers in NY City, the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., and a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

Satellite images released from Maxar Technologies capture aerial views of every location because the tragic events unfolded on the bottom, and within the decades since.

Launched in September 1999, Maxar’s IKONOS satellite — the sole high-resolution commercial satellite in orbit at the time — was wont to observe the areas that had been targeted.

The satellite captured large plumes of smoke rising into the skies above Manhattan on Sept. 12, 2001, after the dual Towers collapsed. a couple of days later, IKONOS snapped another view of Ground Zero on Sept. 15, 2001, after most of the smoke had cleared, making the destruction within the area more clearly visible within the satellite image.

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